Cablegate: Brazil's Long-Term Planning Minister Outlines

DE RUEHBR #0124/01 0241938
R 241938Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/16/2018



1. (C) Summary. Over the course of two meetings with the
Ambassador (accompanied by PolCouns, DAO, and MLO
representatives) and a briefing with Department of Defense
officials in Cambridge, Long-Term Planning Minister Roberto
Mangabeira Unger has laid out his vision for a U.S.-Brazil
partnership focused on cooperation in defense, education,
small business, and environmental management. At its most
ambitious, Unger's vision includes a proposal for a broad
strategic partnership, involving a select number of other
countries in the hemisphere, aimed at expanding economic and
education opportunity. Although Unger's weight in the Lula
administration remains unclear and his actions have been
criticized in the media, he is a well-informed and
sympathetic voice on the topic of U.S.-Brazil relations at
the senior levels of the GOB. End summary.

2. (C) Unger, who took leave from his long-time teaching
position at Harvard in July 2007 to head the newly created
Secretariat for Long-Term Planning, first called on the

Ambassador in late October. The meeting came just after the
Senate, as part of an unrelated spat, rejected the
Administration's proposal to officially create a Ministry of
Long-Term Planning. (As a result, Unger remains head of a
secretariat within the presidency.) Unger told the

Ambassador that he agreed to take on the job only after
President Lula committed that he could look beyond the end of
the current government in developing a new model for socially
inclusive development. In doing so, Unger is partnering with
ministries to define practical initiatives toward key
elements of this long-term goal. Despite the high-profile
and contentious start to his duties, Unger said he is trying
to keep a low-profile and allow the responsible ministries to
take the public lead on the initiatives.

3. (SBU) As a result of the October meeting, post arranged a
briefing on defense issues for Unger during a visit to
Cambridge. (Note: Unger told the Ambassador that he returns
to Cambridge, where has lived since 1970, about once a month
to visit his family. End note.) On January 14, the
Ambassador met with Minister Unger to follow up his Cambridge
briefing and explore next steps. Over the course of the
three meetings, Unger has consistently raised four issues he
believes would make a good focus for U.S.-Brazil
"bi-national" projects: defense, education, small business,
and environment, which are also foci of his broader effort to
craft a new socially inclusive development strategy.


4. (C) Unger is working closely with Defense Minister Nelson
Jobim and an inter-ministerial committee created in September
2007 that is charged with crafting a new national defense
strategy by September 2008. Unger told the Ambassador that
Brazil has never had a national civilian discussion of
defense strategy, but with a military that is "no good for
war, and no good for peace," it is time for such a discussion
to take place. (In Cambridge, Unger lamented the lack of
civilian defense expertise in the MOD, which was noted as a
possible area of collaboration.) The basic element of the
new strategy is to reorganize the military around a
technological and operational vanguard, based on national

-- For the navy, this means placing a priority on a
nuclear-propelled submarine (see septel). On this project,
he believes the United States could be helpful with
developing the hull, software, and tactical armaments. He
said that the Brazilians have the expertise and technology to
develop the fuel cycle, and do not need to collaborate with
the U.S. on this.

-- For the air force, this means either purchasing advanced
aircraft, if such a purchase can be made with provisions for
technology transfer and some component of joint development,
or instead focusing on a combination of modernization to the
extent possible of current planes, development of new
projects already under way (e.g., on UAVs), and development
with a third country of prototypes that will help upgrade
Brazil's technology and weapons.

-- For the army, the GOB is looking at reorganizing around

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the ten percent of the force that already operates as a rapid
reaction strike force. This would imply investment in night
vision equipment, communications equipment, and space
monitoring capability. Unger added that one possibility for
development of the needed equipment and weapons is to give a
greater emphasis to project that the army's reseach and
development center, CTEX, is attempting to develop.

-- Finally, noting their recently agreed joint venture with
China, Unger mentioned Brazil's interest in developing its
ability to launch and maintain satellites as part of their
effort to monitor their national territory and waters.

Unger says that there is a great deal of skepticism that the
United States and other countries will be willing to share
the technology necessary for Brazil to make this strategy
work. However, he said that his "theme" is to test the
limits of what is possible.

5. (C) A second element of the strategy is to create a link
between defense and the national development strategy--that
is, to see the defense sector as an engine for growth. In
other words, Unger said, he wants to put military reform into
the broader context of his effort toward "institutional
renovation" in reconstructing Brazil's development model.


6. (SBU) Unger sees education as a pivotal element to
Brazil's development strategy. Brazil is focusing on
developing quality public education at the middle- and
high-school levels, with an emphasis on teaching methods and
increasing science and technology offerings. More broadly,
he is looking at the federal-local dynamic, one in which he
believes the U.S. and Brazil have similar interests. He said
that Brazil has mastered issues of national monitoring and
redistribution of resources, but believes that both the
United States and Brazil still need to solve the problem of
how the federal level can engage local governments in a
collaborative, non-judicial, flexible way when a school is
consistently below standards.

Small Business

7. (SBU) Noting that small business drives both the U.S. and
Brazilian economies and forms the basis for socially
inclusive economic growth, Unger would like to work together
with the United States on ways to transfer advanced practices
and technologies to small business. Unger said that Brazil's
small business agency, SEBRAE, is trying to move away from a
"neo-Korean" model of picking winners, and has already
created some excellent technology and finance support
programs, but he believes that there is scope to do more.
(Note: SEBRAE and the U.S. Small Business Administration
already have cooperative programs in place, and an SBA
consultant worked with SEBRAE for a six week period in 2007
to exchange ideas and experiences. End note.)

Environmental Management

8. (SBU) Unger sees environmental management, in particular
of Brazil's Amazon, as an area where the United States could
work with Brazil. Noting its connection to the broader
climate change debate, he told the Ambassador that neither of
the two images in people's minds--of a nature park or of a
"new Mato Grosso" (i.e., a region deforested for intensive
agriculture or cattle grazing)--is acceptable. He would like
to look at possibilities for "zoning" in the Amazon that
would allow for both preservation and a variety of economic
activities. The Ambassador cautioned that U.S. involvement
in the Amazon remains a sensitive issue in Brazil, which
Unger said he understood.

The Big Picture

9. (SBU) In the January 14 meeting, Unger told the Ambassador
that he is most interested in achieving a "methodological"
advance with regard to U.S.-Brazil cooperation. He refers to
these initiatives as "bi-national" because he wants to move
away from the traditional idea of assistance, which he sees
as unacceptable, toward a more collaborative effort between
the United States and Brazil as equal partners. Ideally, he

BRASILIA 00000124 003 OF 004

would like to see collaboration on three levels. As a first
tier of collaboration, he would like to see a political
initiative among willing countries in the hemisphere, formed
on the basis of a bilateral partnership between the United
States and Brazil, aimed at expanding educational and
economic opportunities in the region. He said that he has
personally discussed such an idea with Mexican President
Calderon, and he believes that both Mexico and Brazil would
be willing to join in such an initiative. Although he
recognizes it is unconventional coming at the end of an
American administration, he believes the United States should
propose such an initiative as a long-term, "national" program
for the hemisphere.

10. (SBU) Under this broad framework, he sees the education,
small business, and environmental collaboration as a
second-tier, operational set of collaborative efforts aimed
at developing new solutions to common problems, while the
defense collaboration (which he sees as having substantial
political limitations) represents third-tier issues, in which
our joint efforts will be determined by the existence of
practical opportunities. Unger promised to flesh out his
idea for a broader initiative in a letter to President Bush.

11. (C) The Ambassador welcomed Unger's desire to cooperate
with the United States more closely, noting that the rapport
between our two presidents has been the key to recent
advances in our bilateral relationship, such as the CEO forum
and biofuels cooperation, and will be central to making
additional advances of the type that Unger was describing.
The Ambassador said he would like to ensure that Unger's
upcoming visit to the United States with Defense Minister
Jobim (currently scheduled for mid-March) is as successful as
possible. He proposed working to arrange a visit by a senior
DOD official to discuss the defense issues prior to the
Washington trip, looking into more focused meetings for Unger
prior to the joint meetings he and Jobim would attend in
Washington, and arranging a visit to Washington by one of
Unger's senior staffers to set up meetings on the education,
small business, and environment fronts. Unger agreed that
these would be useful.

12. (C) Comment: With most of his adult life spent in the
United States, Unger is a sympathetic presence at the senior
levels of the GOB, one who understands the United States
well, even if he will not always see eye to eye with U.S.
policy--he has expressed concern about one of our key
initiatives, the Defense Cooperation Agreement, for example
(reftel). Moreover, it remains unclear how much weight
Unger's views carry in the GOB. but he appears to have the
support of President Lula, works closely with Defense
Minister Jobim, and seems to have established good working
relationships with other key ministries. But his position
and actions continue to create controversy. Although the
environment minister told the press she had no problem
working with Unger, she did not accompany him on a recent
trip to the Amazon to talk about how best to manage its
resources. Both his 35-member delegation and his proposal
for an aqueduct to take water to other areas of Brazil were
severely criticized in the press (along with his Boston
accent when speaking Portuguese and his attentiveness to the
trappings of ministerial rank). Unger seems unphased by the
criticism, insisting that his job is to stir debate by
searching for and putting out for discussion different
solutions to Brazil's problems. End comment.

13. (SBU) Biographical Note: Roberto Mangabeira Unger was
born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, the son of an American father
and a Brazilian mother. As a child, he moved to the United
States with his family, where he lived until age 11. (Unger
told the Ambassador that, at the age of ten, while living in
New York, he wrote a letter to President Eisenhower
critiquing his now famous "military/industrial complex"
speech. Unger received a personal return letter from
Eisenhower responding in detail to his critique.) Unger
attended university in Brazil and returned to the United
States to attend Harvard Law School during the dark days of
the military dictatorship in Brazil. He joined the faculty
in 1970, becoming one of the youngest faculty members ever to
receive tenure at Harvard in 1976. In the same year, Unger
won a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was appointed the Roscoe
Pound Professor of Law in 2000, and elected to the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. Unger became part of
the movement known as Critical Studies in Law. His research
interests are legal, political, and social theory. He is the
author of 17 books. In 2007, Unger published two books in

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the United States: "The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound,"
and "Free Trade Reimagined: The World Division of Labor and
the Method of Economics." Unger has remained connected to
Brazil, where he was a founder of the Brazilian Republican
Party (PRB) and put himself up as a possible presidential
candidate in 2005 for two small parties, first the Democratic
Labor Party (PDT) and then the Humanist Solidarity Party
(PHS). Unger's appointment to a ministerial post in the Lula
administration in July 2007 came as something of a surprise
given that, in a 2005 newspaper article, he was quoted
describing Lula's government as "the most corrupt in Brazil's
history"--a statement that continues to be cited in every
press article written about him--and calling for Lula's
impeachment. He returns to Cambridge once a month to visit
wife and four children. Unger speaks fluent, unaccented


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